In Germany, students return to school despite fear of a third wave
Primary schools and daycares reopened Monday, after two months of closure, in much of Germany despite fears of a third epidemic wave caused by the spread of the British variant.
The children returned to daycare or primary school on Monday morning in 10 of the 16 German regional states. Two other Länder, Lower Saxony and Saxony, led the way last week.
“It is good that many schools in Germany are gradually resuming face-to-face teaching,” Education Minister Anja Karliczek told DPA. “Children, especially the youngest, need each other”.
Chancellor Angela Merkel herself admitted that there was a high desire in Germany to ease restrictions, which she said she understood, according to comments made on Monday behind closed doors at a meeting of Christian Democratic Party leaders. (CDU) and reported by a participant to AFP.
– Vaccinated teachers –
Classes, interrupted face-to-face since mid-December, however resume under drastic sanitary conditions, with primary classes alternating in half-groups or fixed numbers that will not be able to meet other students.
The government also plans to speed up the vaccination of teachers and educators against Covid-19. Announcements to this effect could be made on Monday, despite reservations from the German Vaccination Commission (STIKO), which wants to continue to focus on the most vulnerable patients.
Free tests and self-tests at one euro are also expected from March 1, a promise from the Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, that the opposition but also the associations of doctors or pharmacists consider difficult to keep.
Despite drastic restrictions regularly extended for two months, Germany has all the trouble, especially because of the spread of the British variant, to stem the pandemic, which has killed nearly 68,000 people.
The seven-day incidence rate thus amounted to 61 on Monday (against 60.2 on Sunday), far from the ceiling of 35 below which relaxations can be introduced.
Germany is thus “at the beginning of a third wave” of contamination, warns Karl Lauterbach, expert on health issues within the Social Democratic Party.
“The change is unfortunately destroying our good development at the moment,” replies Angela Merkel’s right-hand man at the Chancellery, Helge Braun.
Germany, which has already introduced drastic controls at its borders with Austrian Tyrol and the Czech Republic, where variant rates are high, will discuss the situation in Moselle with Paris this week, a neighboring French department also affected. full force by the pandemic.
– Mayor searched –
In this context, the Minister of Health has dampened the hopes of those who hoped for easing. Government and regional presidents will meet on March 3 to discuss it.
“Everyone wants a plan of three and six months, but it is not possible at the moment. I think that one should not make false promises”, warned Mr. Spahn on ARD, evoking even a lowering of the incidence ceiling to 10 to relax the restrictions.
The Chancellor, however, promised that scenarios of relaxation would be developed by a government working group in the areas of personal contacts, schools and daycare, as well as for cultural, sports and catering venues.
In this context, the vaccination campaign is of crucial importance. More than 3.3 million people had received at least one dose of the vaccine on Monday.
Among them would be the mayor (without label) of Halle (Saxony-Anhalt), Bernd Wigand, 65, and several of his relatives, who are not, however, among the priority patients. The city councilor was targeted Monday by a police search investigating this alleged abuse.
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